Challenges in translating Norwegian into English lead to settlement of second US price-fixing case vs salmon farmers

The difficulty in having to translate the mostly Norwegian documents into English in the second price-fixing case in the United States against Norwegian salmon farmers is a key reason the plaintiffs agreed to settle the case for $33 million.

Around 400,000 businesses in the food service industry that bought salmon for resale from April 10, 2013 filed a class action lawsuit against Mowi, Lerøy, Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, SalMar and Ocean Quality for alleged price fixing.

The claims in the case stem from unannounced inspections of the Norwegian-owned companies by the European Commission in February 2019, which led the EC inspectors to suspect that the companies may have struck deals to coordinate price hikes. This also prompted a parallel antitrust probe by the US Department of Justice, according to New York-based legal news service Law360.

But there seems to be no end in sight to the litigation, which has gone on for three years so far. Prolonging the litigation isn’t to anyone’s advantage, the plaintiffs’ lawyers suggested, given the fact that the plaintiffs are mostly small businesses.

The lawyers told US District Judge Rodney Smith that the $33 million recovery is an “excellent result” that would help everyone avoid lengthy litigation.

”Document review was particularly challenging in this case, as the key documents — for example, communications among defendants — were largely in Norwegian, and thus had to be searched and reviewed in Norwegian and translated into English,” the motion dated October 6 stated.

“Although plaintiffs have engaged in substantial discovery and vigorously litigated this case, much remains to be done absent settlement. The settlement will avoid the uncertainties, risks, and costs of years of continued litigation against foreign defendants who largely conducted their business in the Norwegian language.”

The case is the second price-fixing case lodged in the United States against Norwegian salmon farmers. In May 2022, Mowi, Grieg Seafood, Lerøy Seafood and SalMar settled for $85 million another US class-action lawsuit which alleged they conspired to fix prices of farmed salmon.


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